To become great at what you do, it all starts with embracing your flaws. One of my favorite people to do that is Elon Musk. I never admired the guy for being so rich or famous. And for the longest time, I didn’t think anything of him to be honest. I just couldn’t relate to him. But in recent years, he’s shown his human side.
When he was on the Joe Rogan podcast for the first time in 2018, he talked more about his challenges and what drives him. Every year since then, he seems more like a human and less like a cold businessman / inventor. And to top things off, he revealed on Saturday Night Live that he has Aspergers a while ago.
The way he announced it was great. Instead of saying it like it’s something negative, he actually celebrated the fact that he’s the first SNL host with Aspergers. He said: “I’m actually making history tonight as the first person with Aspergers to host SNL… Or at least, the first to admit it.”
He also joked about being an android who’s running software that resembles a human. And he even brought on his mom at the end of his monologue. How can you not like a guy who’s accepting himself for who he is?
Accepting your flaws is hard
There’s this old video about Elon Musk who’s waiting for a delivery of his one million dollar supercar. The video is from 1999, and he’s obviously trying really hard to impress the crew. When he talked about how wealthy he was, he said nonsense like, “Obviously cash is cash. Those are just a large number of Ben Franklins.”
If you read that quote, it sounds like it’s coming from someone who’s trying too hard.
That doesn’t take away his genius and success. The man’s intellect is up there with the greatest minds in history, no doubt about it. But he always seemed socially awkward. He was trying too hard and it just didn’t come across as genuine.
But now that he’s come out and embraced who he is, it makes me respect him 100 times more. What I’ve learned from Elon Musk is not the obvious stuff people talk about like, “habits of billionaires.”
It’s really fascinating that it took Elon Musk longer to embrace himself publicly than to send a rocket to the moon. For years, he built world-changing companies, but he hardly ever talked about himself. Isn’t that fascinating?
The inside struggle is fruitless
Most of us think we need to hide our flaws from the world. We believe we need to come across as confident. We think we need to behave a certain way to be accepted.
- “If you’re in sales, you need to love chasing money and new business.”
- “If you’re an entrepreneur, you need to be a risk-taker.”
- “If you’re an artist, you need to do drugs.”
- “If you’re a writer, you need to drink whisky.”
- “If you’re an investment banker, you need to sleep in the office and work on weekends.”
As a result of all these false beliefs about how one should behave, we’re constantly struggling with who we are internally, and who we are externally. When we hide certain characteristics about ourselves, we get frustrated because we feel caged. What’s more, as long as we’re struggling internally, we can never achieve our full potential.
Reputation comes from understanding our flaws
What happens if we embrace our flaws and weaknesses? When you accept who you are, you no longer waste your energy fitting in or trying to impress others. You can focus all your energy on what you’re trying to achieve in life. Not everyone needs to be like Elon Musk who’s actually changing the world. And I think he’s only starting. Now that he’s no longer trying to hide his true self from the world, he can also inspire others on a personal level—not just in business.
And that’s true for the rest of us as well. Every single person understands that we can never be perfect. It’s a platitude everyone subscribes to. But what do we do? We ignore it and try to be perfect. Instead, let’s work with what we have and embrace our flaws. That way we can spend our energy on being great at what we do, or simply be a great human being.
I appreciate that a person like Elon Musk is setting such a great example. It inspired me to embrace my flaws as well. And I hope it did the same for you.